Since I’ve found myself a second part time job, I’ve decided to spend part of my inflated income on a new hobby (one that doesn’t involve wasting my earnings on luxurious food & drink): Buying vinyl records….
As I enter a local record shop I realize it has been years since I have bought a disc in a CD shop, let alone a vinyl record. Doing so seems to go against all of my digital revolutionary ideas….However, there is something to be said about collecting music in a tangible form…
Thus, the records that I purchase will ultimately say something about my particular musical tastes and stand as a visual representation of what I consider to be musically profound.
As I entered the record shop for my initial purchase I sifted my brain for albums I would consider my favorite of all time…
The first I came across was The Velvet Underground & Nico produced by Andy Warhol.
Sunday Morning: Nico’s presence in the Velvet Underground was entirely Andy Warhol’s idea – and Lou Reed resented it. Originally, it was requested that Nico be the lead vocalist on “Sunday Morning”. Rebellion flowed at it’s highest when Lou Reed entered the studio without Nico and sang the chipper tune in a high pitched voice – proving that his voice could be more feminine than alto brooder, Nico.
I’m Waiting For My Man: After opening track, “Sunday Morning” reassuring calm intro, “I’m Waiting For My Man” tells a different story. This narrative involves the culture whom worships the vice. This sunny grit n grime song rolls in at the train stop and demands follow through. The relentless pounding of Moe Tucker’s drums encourages the cool twang of the guitar’s sing song repetition. Meanwhile, Lou Reed’s vocal presence demands the authority of a rebel without a cause. feeling good and fine and not worrying about the future’s consequences. The anticipation of the musical fix creeps in towards the end in what seems to be a tortured piano fades into black.
Femme Fatale: Nico’s debut on the record is sung deeply and slides in comfortably. “See the way she walks / hear the way she talks”, a narrative that may be based on her own character chased by Andy Warhol. Warhol had been known to shift focus through an entourage of muses – perhaps explains why Nico was so heavily incorporated into the early Velvet Undergournd’s career. However, it remains a song in which we can all relate. We all have things that inspire us and keep us alive.
Venus In Furs: A definite shift away from the album’s pop sensibility – and rock music in general – occurs in “Venus In Furs”. Simplistic folk lore – based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s masochistic novella of the same title – had been transformed by John Cale’s ethnic bent chords and discordant string arrangements. Lou Reed’s voice takes on a person of power and expertise, chanting out commands of respect to one’s own demons versus the villians of stories past told. Abstract minor chord shards of guitar and ritualistic drums make this track a memorable accomplishment in rock n roll history .
Run, Run, Run: The Velvet’s bring it back from the afterlife with a rompy 50’s style jaunt reminiscing of a simpler time… where everyone jammed on the same old chord and sang sad story songs they had heard down at the local corner stop about a hit n run where the angels would scream the whispers of potential.
All Tomorrow’s Partys: I’ve always felt that this story was about one of the phenomenal drag queens I’m sure hung out with Andy Warhol’s crowd. What I picture is this person putting on their face and new attire and entering the world. I also relate it to the desert sky while driving to a music festival and become nostalgic for the documentaries on such festivals in the Velvet’s era. Musically, it is an incredible performance by Nico – whose alto vocals dip into surprising tonal depths under angular adventure with haunted arabesque guitar licks.
Heroine: Above a halo of a waning string arrangement, Lou Reed’s vocals reflect the child like ecstacy the human mind may occasionally visit through the exit of drugs. While the message could also present the argument of heroin equates death it’s justifiable tone states that it is a life beyond politics. The song starts off slow and speeds up to alter the listener’s mood exciting into a riot of chaotic musical debautuary. “Heroine be the death of me.”
There She Goes Again: In order to reel in the pop music sensationalists, The Velvet Underground follow up the brash avant-guarde hit, “Heroin”, in this slick garage arrangement. Lou Reed does a good vocal high dive telling it like it is. Meanwhile, male background singers coo in a ridiculous falsetto. All I can think about is an east coast boardwalk and blonde muscular man babes in tight red shorts.
I’ll Be Your Mirror: The albums most accurate replica of many 60’s female singers backed by male artistic visionaries, this tune has Nico singing in a cheery pop star sort of way. You know the chick singing on a stool in the middle of an empty stage playing to a tape recording?.
The Black Angel’s Death Song: The Velvet’s return to their brand of angular-psuedo eastern rock; a style which will ultimately define them as forward thinking artists of the underground hierarchy. Reliant on Lou Reed’s story telling this tune nods towards folk gestures illustrated through a venomous vocal hiss.
European Son: In the hit n run fashion of ‘I’m waiting for my man”, European Son takes on a street smarts rumble. The song starts off with a casual confrontation with Lou Reed’s challenging vocal style pushed up front. Musically, a war is waged after a recorded sample of smashing glass is threatened upon which sonic havoc ensues. The sounds seems to mesh together in one sonic hail storm. The drums are the solid charge underneath splintery guitar and sparks of feedback. This was a tune that made it okay to listen to noise music. Such a finale doesn’t need an encore.